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A letter from Jeremy and Luta Garbat-Welch serving in Malawi
November 2015 - CHE Progress
As the year draws to a close, we have been reflecting on our time in Malawi and Africa so far. While we've been on the continent for nearly a year and a half, it feels like we've only been settling in to life here for a year. Our first months involved so much travel, and we didn't actually move into the house we are renting until the end of October 2014. As the rains are starting to fall once again, we have been digging in our yard and planting our garden for the new season. Jathniel has looked upon the rains with wonder, remarking upon “Water! Water!” everywhere. Water is one of his favorite things, so the fact that it is falling from the sky and making puddles all over is amazing to him. It seems that he has forgotten the rains from last year. A year is a long time for a toddler!
A year is a long time for us as well. In the past year Luta has traveled to two of the other countries that she serves. Plans to travel to Congo and South Sudan fell through, but we hope she will be able to make it next year. Jeremy and Jathniel got the hang of being without Mama during her trips. And Luta and Jathniel had the chance to be without Daddy when Jeremy went to California for two weeks for a memorial service. We've seen animals in the national parks and at the lake, and we've all enjoyed bird-watching and exploring the new plants that we can try to grow in our yard.Continue reading
A letter from Nancy and Shelvis Smith-Mather serving in South Sudan
November 2015 - I Want to Read
I was cooking a pot of cabbage in my small kitchen when I heard a voice calling to me through the window. “Madame, ana deru akil,” the boy said, placing his fingers to his mouth, in case I did not understand his Juba Arabic statement, “Madame, I want food.”
I felt very uncomfortable. I thought my kitchen was my own personal space. When I step out of my front door, there is always the possibility that young children will shout something at me … or when I walk down the road … shop in the market … attend church … pretty much anywhere in public. Some children just shout “Khawajah, Khawajah!!!” with great excitement. Khawajah means “foreigner,” or some say it means “white person.” These children are generally happy with a wave that acknowledges their presence. Other children, in contrast, may ask for a ball, sometimes a mango, sometimes money. Never before, however, had anyone called through my window.Continue reading
A letter from Sharon Bryant serving in Thailand
September 2015 - CVT's and Their IMpact
The leaves are starting to turn in northern places and I am sure that fall will be beautiful in the U.S.A.! I spent a wonderful weekend in retreat at Mo-Ranch in Hunt, Texas, with the congregation of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Austin, Texas. What a joyful, uplifting time and one that may bring a radical change to my life. I had the opportunity to share stories of the work that I do for Christian Volunteers in Thailand (CVT) and to meet many members of the congregation on a more personal level. I also heard Dr. Bill Greenway (professor at Austin Seminary) speak on Creation and what we learn about our God from the Creation narratives found in Genesis. As usual, his insight has caused me to rethink aspects of my life in relation to all living things in God’s great creation.
This fall the CVT Program greets new CVT mission workers from many nations. We greet a young woman from Brazil who is passionate about children and child protection, who will be working at a school in the slums in Bangkok; a young man from Assam in India, who will be teaching English at a school in the Northeast of Thailand; a middle-aged couple from Illinois, who are eager to teach at a school in Northern Thailand; and a young woman from Georgia, who wants to focus on Christian evangelism through drama and dance working with the Christian Communications Institute of Payap University, a Christian university in Northern Thailand. They will join the CVT mission workers who are already working in Thailand. Once again, we have a mix of nationalities and a mix of denominations, making this program the unique multicultural and ecumenical experience that has made it so successful! If you know of anyone who is looking for a short-term mission experience, please have them contact me.Continue reading
A letter from Eric Hinderliter serving in Lithuania
November - All Saints Day 2015 - Prayer and Action
Visų šventųjų dieną or Vėlinės
November 1 is All Saints Day, when many of us recall the hymn “For all the saints, who from their labors rest.” In Lithuania November 1 and 2 are special days when, according to the state tourist information page, “all Lithuanians go to cemeteries to put up candles on the tombs of their loved ones, also on unvisited tombs, and to say a prayer, in the belief that this will help to keep the link between the living and the dead, as All Souls’ Day is a special time, when souls come back home.“ Cemeteries are aglow with candles. Yet many find that these traditions have become exaggerated folk rituals bordering on ancestor worship.
This time of year I especially miss the saints who have passed on. My mother died when we were at the 219th General Assembly (2010) in Minneapolis. Our daughter-in-law died in early 2011. These are all the more painful because we were far away when they died. One of our melancholy tasks has been to purge our mission letter mailing list of several dozen names of those who have died. Often these were the saints who blessed us on our way to mission. Thomas H. Green, a well-known Jesuit writer on Catholic spirituality, puts his thoughts about those who are now gone from us this way when he remembers his parents: “Usually it is simply a remembering, a recalling of what I already know and the mind’s remembering brings joy to the heart. … All I ask of you is forever to remember me as loving you.” Indeed, if we are prayerful, we become quiet in remembering, and “our understanding and our imagination become organs of remembering the Lord and his love for us” (When the Well Runs Dry, p. 54).Continue reading
A letter from Barry and Shelly Dawson serving as Regional Liaisons for Southeast Asia, based in Thailand
November 2015 - Persecution - and Hope
Before Chakra left his mountain village and traveled more than 2,000 kilometers to another Southeast Asian country, where the promise of a new job and the hope of a better future awaited him, he had been loved by his family and respected by his tribal neighbors. He and his young wife had been married only three years and already had an infant son and another child who would be born before the next harvest. Scratching out a living by farming a small patch of land was a backbreaking grind that caused him no small amount of worry. So when Chakra heard about the possibility of working in a factory where he could earn more money in two years than he could in ten years of farming the nearby slopes, he decided that he must go for the sake of his family and their future.
So why now, after his return to his home village, was he on the cold ground in a fetal position, feeling excruciating pain in his muscle-weary back as his father and older brother beat him mercilessly with hard bamboo poles? What had he done? Why were his attackers—the people he loved—treating him with such raw hostility and brutal punishment? Answer: Because he had told them that while he was working in the factory in a foreign country he had come to believe in his heart that Jesus was the Son of God and the Savior of the world. Chakra had told his family that now he is a Christian.Continue reading
A letter from Karla Koll serving in Costa Rica
Advent 2015 - Students' Insights
Advent has come once again. In Jeremiah 33:14–16 we read the promise that one is coming who will bring peace and justice. The words of the prophet resonate with our own longings as we look around a world filled with pain and suffering. We know we are very far from experiencing the peace and just relationships that God desires for God’s creation. Advent calls us to active waiting, to seek peace and justice as we prepare for God’s coming among us.
Here at the Latin American Biblical University (UBL) our students bring their longings and their concerns for the vulnerable populations in their own contexts. They have hard questions and they come to their studies looking for ways to put hope into action. Through their academic work they acquire tools for social analysis and theological reflection, gifts they bring to their churches and communities. As our academic year ends I want to share with you the work some of our students have concluded as I invite you to celebrate with them and pray for their ongoing ministries.Continue reading
A letter from Myoung Ho Yang serving in Hong Kong
November 2015 - Walking Joyfully with God
Time flies really fast. We already have been in Hong Kong for a year and a half. Some people here say that most foreigners who come to live in Hong Kong get quite ill after living here for a year. Thankfully we have stayed healthy.
As we look back at our time so far in Hong Kong, we cannot say that we have done any great works or have achieved any marvelous things. We can affirm, however, that we have walked with God joyfully ever since we said “Yes” to God’s gracious calling and began this ministry that God opened to us. We never thought that we would serve in Hong Kong and China. But we are here by the amazing grace and will of God!
It is a blessing that we can serve as mission co-workers at this particular time of our lives, and at this time in God’s history and in this place in God’s world. This is our real joy. Every day we give thanks and pray for God’s will to be fulfilled through our life and ministryContinue reading
A letter from Ruth Brown serving in the Democratic Republic of Congo
September 2015 - Loans Empowering Women
Muoyo wenu! (Life to you!)
Like most of you, I remember where I was and what I was doing when I learned about the events of September 11, 2001. Since then I've enjoyed piling more memories onto that calendar day to celebrate the truth that “the Light has come into the world and the darkness shall not overcome it.” This past September 11, just minutes before 9 a.m., I walked up a small hill from a busy marketplace on the outskirts of Kananga to a view I will long remember and treasure: High on the thick trunk of a mango tree, above a circle of colorfully dressed women seated on benches and chairs, was a huge, battery-operated clock, some 2 feet in diameter! I'm still laughing at the memory!
Some of you can appreciate the expression “We're running on African time!” Time has a different quality here. Church services are four hours long, and just this past week I waited two hours for a meeting to begin. But at this meeting on September 11, 2015, 23 of 24 seats were already filled at 9 a.m. sharp. Then, upon the arrival of the last woman at 9:05 a.m., the group secretary requested immediate payment of a late fee of 100 Franc Congolese (FC)—about 11 cents—and, in front of everyone present, that tardy member quickly placed money into a red plastic bowl.Continue reading
A letter from Jan Heckler serving in Madagascar
Fall 2015 - A Perfect Score!
Vololona hesitates. The answer, if she can correctly provide it, will mean she has passed her test with no errors, something she has been working hard to accomplish. Now, with 66 correct answers successfully provided by her in less than the last 16 minutes, she needs just one more to pass with a perfect score and a “rate correct” faster than graduate students averaged at the University of Florida.
Vee, as she is affectionately called, is 48, married, and has three children including twin girls! She works for the Church of Jesus Christ (or FJKM as it is abbreviated in Malagasy), the PC(USA)’s partner church in Madagascar. As the Deputy Project Administrator, she is my “counterpart” for the EBMI (Evidence Based Methods of Instruction) Project.
This ambitious systemic transformation is aiming to share especially effective methods of teaching and arrangements with nearly 3,000 FJKM teachers nationwide. This is a major, multiyear changeover effort for how the teachers “teach” in their classrooms, increasing engagement by learners with lots of feedback, something research time and again implicates as a major factor in human learning. The teachers will develop skills in arranging optimal classroom environments—even with underfunded limitations intact—so that learners thrive and are successful. Vee’s role will be evolving as she becomes my successor and the next Project Administrator, thus providing for a sustainable continuity and complete indigenous direction of the effort.Continue reading
A letter from Bill and Ann Moore serving in Japan
November 2015 - 30 Years of Mission
One of the blessings of serving as mission co-workers of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is that every three to four years we are given time to return to the U.S. for Interpretation Assignment. This is a time to make personal visits to congregations that faithfully support our work in Japan, strengthen ties with family and friends, and learn from Presbyterian World Mission staff how we may more effectively engage in God’s mission and interpret it to our denomination.
This spring and summer we were privileged to be on Interpretation Assignment with half of it based in North Carolina, where Bill’s family is centered, and the other half in Southern California, where Ann’s family lives. The high point of our time on the East Coast was visiting our supporting churches, some of whom have supported our family from the time Bill’s parents, John and Kathy, began service as missionaries to Korea 60 years ago. It was moving for us to realize that for six decades these congregations have faithfully supported the world mission of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) by support of our family’s work in partnership with Christians in Korea and Japan. Without this support through prayer, encouragement, and gifts we could not have engaged in this long-term mission work.Continue reading
A letter from Scott and Elmarie Parker serving in the Middle East, based in Lebanon
November 2015 - My Middle East Springsteen Pilgrimage
I’m a big Bruce Springsteen fan. There’s something about his working-class ethos that I love. Over the years I’ve made about seven road trips, or “pilgrimages” as I like to call them, to see Bruce in concert.
During October 2015 I made a different kind of pilgrimage: I spent two weeks living with families in Northern Iraq who lost their homes when ISIS (pronounced Da3sh in Arabic) took over Mosul in 2014. About half of that time was spent at a Presbyterian church in Kirkuk that houses about 15 displaced families (around 65 people). I slept in the pastor's office, showered with a hose in the utility room, and since it was dangerous for me to be in public unattended, spent a lot of my time with the families that now call the church campus home.
The families living at the church took turns providing my meals, each time escorting me to a different “home.” Families of four to six members live/eat/sleep in converted Sunday school classrooms (most still adorned with Minnie Mouse drapes). I would typically be offered a seat on one of four beds pushed against the wall, and a plastic fold-up table would be brought in to make the dining room transformation.Continue reading
A letter from Doug Baker serving in Northern Ireland
November 2015 - The Ties That Bind
I hadn’t planned to celebrate Communion until 8 pm the final evening, but it kept happening unexpectedly.
We were having a retreat in Northern Ireland for the four PC(USA) Young Adult Volunteers currently serving in Belfast, the four YAVs serving in Glasgow, four young adults serving in Glasgow and Arbroath through a Church of Scotland program, and my Scottish partners who coordinate those volunteers.
The celebration of communion definitely started as soon as the Belfast and Glasgow YAVs caught sight of each other in the airport arrival lounge. Having been through the intense discernment process together in Arkansas in March and then an even stronger experience of Christian community during a week long orientation at Stony Point, New York, in August, this was the first time they had been able to be physically together for two months. Joy abounded!
As we left the airport I began to discover more about the volunteers working through the Church of Scotland in Arbroath. I knew one was from the U.S. and found out about that program while studying in Scotland last year. When I asked Chris where his home was he told me, Allentown, Pa. I replied that I had been there several times. He responded, “I know, First Presbyterian is my home congregation and several people have told me to be on the lookout for you.” His home church is a faithful donor toward our sending and support costs. I immediately felt a strong connection to Chris and we were both reminded of bonds in Christ that stretch across oceans.Continue reading
A letter from Dennis Smith, regional liaison for Brazil and the Southern Cone, based in Argentina
October 2015 - Expanding Partnership
They call it the Chapel of Bones. There are bones everywhere. Human bones. Columns and arches set with skulls and femurs.
The inscription on the arched entryway says: Nós ossos que aqui estamos pelos vossos esperamos (“We bones that are here, for yours await").
The chapel is in Évora, Portugal, and dates from the 16th century. Is this just macabre medieval Franciscan humor? Perhaps. “Memento mori,” they said back then: “Remember, you have to die.” Indeed. To contemplate the visible remains of 5,000 human beings does help clear one’s mind and focus on mortality, on how ephemeral are our lives and institutions.
Our host is Rev. José Salvador, one of the elder pastors of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Portugal (IEPP). I’ve come to Portugal with Wertson Brasil de Souza, the Moderator of the United Presbyterian Church of Brazil (IPU); we are exploring a new three-way partnership between Presbyterian World Mission (PWM), the IPU and the IEPP. In synthesis, the IEPP needs pastors and the IPU has skilled, experienced pastors available. PWM would offer guidance in the selection and supervision of Brazilian mission personnel and could supplement the funds offered by IEPP and IPU for this project.Continue reading
A letter from Charles Johnson preparing to serve in Zambia
November 2015 - Our Second Half Life Begins
In Falling Upward: Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life, author and Franciscan priest Richard Rohr describes the two parts of one’s spiritual life. In the first half, Rohr tells us, we focus on establishing our identity, our career, our family and friends. During this time we are establishing a routine for our lives. And then something unforeseen occurs, we suffer a loss of some type, a crisis beyond anything we could ever imagine. Maybe a job is lost, a house burns down, a serious illness occurs, or as was our case, the death of our son Holden. Rohr observes that—from this point on—the second half of life may or may not happen. You can avoid it if you choose, and stay stuck where you are, but we can also use the experience of our loss to find deeper spiritual meaning in our lives and as a result find ourselves falling upward into the second half of life.
I’m reminded of II Corinthians 12: 9: “He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’ So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.”Continue reading
A letter from Jed Koball serving in Peru
November 2015 - A world Perspective
Now let me suggest first that if we are to have peace on earth, our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation; and this means we must develop a world perspective.—Martin Luther King Jr., Christmas Eve Sermon, 1967
“Riding on the back of a dirt bike down the dusty streets of a small town in northern Peru, waiting for a call from your supervisor, sounds like something out of a spy movie. Except, of course, I'm probably the furthest thing from a spy. I'm a Young Adult Volunteer. This is my life now; I live here now!” So writes Daniel Pappas in his blog from the jungle town of Moyobamba, where he serves alongside our global partners in the struggle to protect the land rights of indigenous communities. Daniel is a member of the newest class of YAVs to join us in Peru. Together with Shaina Miller, he forms part of our Christian community.Continue reading
A letter from Nadia Ayoub serving in Ukraine
November 2015 - Seasonal Changes
Dear Friends and Families,
With a heart full of thanksgiving I thank God for his faithfulness through the year 2015. And I thank each one of you for continuing to be faithful partners with your prayers, encouragements, and support.
Thank God for his grace and favor in his sight and in the people’s sight. Summer went by and two-thirds of autumn. Thank God for plentiful harvest; some crops were great and others were less. The beautiful colored leaves covering the ground left the trees without beauty. The strawberry farmers put the small plants in the fields, cover them, and trust God for the next spring, when they blossom and give plenty of sweet strawberries. The working season for the Roma people is coming to an end, when they were picking fruits and vegetables and digging potatoes and beets. They picked corn and walnuts, and they cleaned them and sold them to a middleman who took them to the market. Although the income for the Roma was very little, they were happy to have that chance to work. During the working time the children miss many school days because they have to help their families.Continue reading
A letter from Choon Lim serving as Regional Liaison for East Asia, based in South Korea
October 2015 - Thanksgiving and Joy
Every year the months of November and December remind me (Choon) to embrace life with thanksgiving and joy, no matter what situation I am in. This is because during this season we remember that the incarnate God, Immanuel, came to this world to liberate us from our bondage to sin. When we believe in the Son of God, thanksgiving and joy well up in our hearts as an unconditional gift. That is why we celebrate this wonderful and great season.
Jesus came to be one of us. Now we are called to go and be bearers of Christ’s presence in our world.
In my life, God graciously has granted me two role models that illustrate this way of living. One is no longer here in this world and the other lives in Seoul, South Korea, now.
The first is the Rev. Son Yangwon (1902-1950). Rev. Son was a respected educator in the time leading up to the Korean War. He was born in what is now North Korea and his father was a Presbyterian deacon. During his youth Korea was occupied by Japan and schoolchildren were required to bow before an image of the Japanese emperor. As a Christian, Son refused and was jailed as a dissident.Continue reading
A letter from Kate Taber serving in Israel-Palestine
October 2015 - Girls too can play soccer!
Friends and family,
Greetings from Bethlehem during this holiday season! Soon the giant tree will go up in Manger Square, lights will hang over every street, and Christmas markets will pop up on every corner. Christians will visit from all over the world, and together we will remember God’s coming to earth in an unlikely place in unlikely circumstances. We will celebrate our faith that God continues to come in all unlikely places, and even still comes to this one today, despite what the headlines would have us believe.
This is a time we need that faith more than ever, as despair and fear appear to triumph over hope and love on a daily basis. Since September the news has seemed almost continuously tragic, with lives being wasted all over Israel and Palestine. One catalyst for renewed unrest has been the increased presence of right-wing Israeli settlers and politicians at the Al Aqsa mosque compound and new practices by Israeli security at the compound. Palestinians have worried that a new status quo was being enforced, one that would undermine their authority over and access to the compound and perhaps any hope of a future Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem. This catalyst occurs in the context of the continuation and deepening of the Israeli military occupation over the last several decades. The combination has resulted in renewed frustration and despair among Palestinians, manifesting among some as clashes with the army and among a handful as violent attacks against Israeli soldiers and civilians. The aggressive response by Israel has been deadly for Palestinians.Continue reading
A letter from Rochelle and Tyler Holm serving in Malawi
Fall 2015 - LASSON KAMANGA
In September the University of Livingstonia started a new academic term. One of the returning students is Lasson Kamanga.
Lasson Kamanga is starting his second year studying theology at the University of Livingstonia. He comes from a very large family and a Christian background. His mom and dad married after both losing their first spouses. There are 6 siblings on his dad’s side and 4 on his mom’s from these earlier marriages, then an additional 4 children from their blended family—for a total of 14 siblings.
Lasson is the first in his family to study at University and to go into the ministry. Both his mom and his dad stayed in school up to the eighth grade. His elder sister has followed him now and is studying computer IT in South Africa.
Lasson’s father is a church elder, and Lasson describes himself as a youngster as “active but not very serious.” In his third year of high school he got serious about his faith and was a member and leader in school youth Christian groups. In 2010 he took his end-of-high-school exam and scored 10 points (a very good result). He was interested in going into the ministry, but his exam scores got him a full-ride scholarship to the University of Malawi Polytechnic, a government university, to study architecture. Still he wavered. His family told him, “There is no money in theology; you will die poor.” So he started the architecture program, but he could not deny his call. In 2014 he transferred over to study theology at the University of Livingstonia with the aim of being ordained as a minister.Continue reading
A letter from Gordon and Dorothy Gartrell serving in Brazil
October 2015 - God's Mission
Dear friends and family,
As you read this letter, you have probably heard LOTS of ads and SPECIAL OFFERS for Christmas purchases. Unfortunately, sales do not wait until the day after Thanksgiving like they used to do years ago. In the large Brazilian cities decorations will go up in early November and stay until January 6 (Epiphany). But in our small town commercialism has not taken over Christmas yet. Friends here tell us that perhaps there will not even be decorations put up by the city. Christmas will be celebrated only with a church service on Christmas Eve, ending at midnight, and a New Year’s Eve service on December 31 that will allow church members and friends to begin the New Year in prayer and worship instead of partying. As you celebrate Advent and Christmas may you remember this, even when you feel overwhelmed with things to do:
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given,
and the government will be on His shoulders,
And He will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6).
We have been traveling quite a bit in the last few months. Mid-September Gordon was invited to preach on missions at a church his parents had worked in during the years 1973-76 in Araguaina, Tocantins. The lay evangelist who worked with Gordon’s parents is still there and participating in the church at age 90. God’s mission through that church has produced another three Presbyterian churches in town. Their membership has grown to 200. Gordon was impressed with their 60 young children besides youth and young adults. They have doubled the sanctuary and installed air-conditioning. The day he arrived it was 100° F. The church was celebrating 50 years of being an organized church and over a period of time was inviting persons who had worked at that church over the years to come and celebrate in God’s mission.Continue reading
A letter from David Cortés-Fuentes and Josey Saez Acevedo, preparing for service in Cuba
September 2015 - Ministry Announcement
Warmest Greetings, dear family and friends,
The summer season will soon come to a close; fall is just around the corner, bringing with it a transition of cooler weather and breathtaking autumn colors. So, too, are we in the midst of a transitional season in our lives. Our transition will take us from southern California to Cuba in a matter of a few short months. We are humbled to announce that we have been appointed as mission co-workers to Cuba through the Presbyterian Mission Agency of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). We are headed to the Seminario Evangélico de Teología (Evangelical Theological Seminary) in Matanzas, Cuba.
For David, being appointed as professor of New Testament and Greek is a continuation of his calling to empower men and women to proclaim and witness to the transformative power of the gospel. As for Josey, she will continue to engage in ministry in the area of Christian education and wherever needed. Our ministries will continue to be Christ-centered with a passion for education, justice, proclamation of the gospel through evangelism, and the ministry of compassion and advocacy.Continue reading
A letter from Charles and Melissa Johnson preparing to serve in Zambia
September 2015 - Ministry Announcement
Over the past few years God has been patiently calling us to mission service in Africa and has recently provided us with an opportunity to answer the call. It is with great joy and excitement that we announce we have been appointed as mission co-workers to Zambia through the Presbyterian Mission Agency of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). We will be living in Lundazi, in Eastern Zambia, where Charles will be working as a development specialist with our partner church, the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP), Synod of Zambia.
For Charles, this is an opportunity to use his education and experience in agriculture, collaborating with others in participatory community development to improve agriculture, as well as nutrition, public health, sanitation, and water, in an effort to reduce poverty and its impact. Francis of Assisi said, “Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words.” Much of Charles’ work will center on the Chasefu Model Farm located at Chasefu Theological College. Charles looks forward to building relationships in Zambia and working alongside our partners for the glory of God. God has given Melissa a voice and a heart for “the least of these,” and she knows she is called to advocate against the injustices that so many women and children face on a daily basis. Melissa knows God will lead her to exactly the right place at exactly the right time. She is confident that opportunities to work for justice with women and children will present themselves in Zambia.Continue reading
A letter from Cathy Chang and Juan Carlos Lopez Carrasco preparing for service in the Philippines
September 1, 2015 - MInistry Announcement
Dear Family and Friends;
Greetings to you from Midland, Michigan!
This fall we will begin service as international mission co-workers through the Presbyterian Mission Agency of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Cathy has been appointed as the Regional Facilitator for Addressing Migration and Human Trafficking, based in Manila, Philippines.
This call to international mission service brought us together when we were both serving in mission in Cairo, Egypt. Similar to the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, both of our family stories included forced migration, internal displacement, and exile. Together we prayed that God might bring our dreams of serving as mission workers into reality, although seminary, work and a long engagement included steps along the way. Our work and service in Michigan, along with our family stories, have helped us to prepare for international mission service. Cathy has been serving as associate pastor of The Bertha E. R. Strosacker Memorial Presbyterian Church. Juan has been serving as site supervisor for school-based programs with Big Brothers and Big Sisters of the Great Lakes Bay Region and volunteering actively with the high school youth at church. As parents to an active 3-year old daughter, Aurélie, we continue to bring the best of ourselves and our cultures to raising her as a whole person.Continue reading
A letter from Emily Seitz serving in Taiwan
September 2015 - Balancing Work and Family
Our eldest, Samuel, has just started second grade, and Jonathan has begun teaching for the fall semester at Taiwan Theological Seminary. Jonathan is teaching two larger survey classes this semester and two tutorials and in addition is serving as Acting Library Director at Taiwan Seminary. The fall always seems to take off with an explosion of activities and then it takes a little while to put the pieces back together.
As we begin our fall schedule I have been thinking a great deal about balance in life. Often I find myself praying for guidance in finding this elusive “balance.” How do we balance work and family life? How do we honor our commitments to the seminary, the local church, and PC(USA) congregations? When is work too much? When is school too much? How can we get enough rest and play? When does well-rounded become over-scheduled?
A letter from Ryan and Alethia White serving in Germany
October 2015 - Two Stories
As tens of thousands of people have sought refuge in Germany recently we want to share with you two stories of refugees we have met in our work with the Iranian Presbyterian Church in Berlin. Please join in prayer for all the people migrating across the world who each possess their own story.
Frieda sits in her small dormitory room, fearful of the future and filled with memories of the past. She has trouble sleeping and seems to be falling into a deeper state of depression and anxiety. Recently Frieda received notice that her asylum case in Germany was denied. Every knock at the door sends a jolt of fear through her because she wonders if it is the authorities coming to deport her.
Frieda fled from Iran to Germany, but went through Italy to get here. According to the Dublin accords, under normal circumstances one must apply for asylum in the first country where one lands within the European Union. Many refugees in Germany have come through Greece or Italy along the southern Mediterranean route. Because of this their asylum case within Germany is complicated and often they are told they need to return to the first country of entry or their home country.Continue reading
Thank You and Your Family for serving God by taking His word so far from Your Home.
God is doing his work and using us a tools in other nations.during my working here in Athens i observed that there are many oppertunities to share the Gospel massage with other those do not know Jesus and we can bring them to Jesus Christ.Please prayer for me that i'm a very littel to that God is using me here in Athens Greece. God bless you.